Deck Comparison Guide – Part 1: Low Maintenance Decking
An exciting part of planning your new deck involves choosing the right decking for your lifestyle. The first step is deciding between natural wood and non-wood decking. Natural wood can be beautiful but keeping it that way requires regular maintenance. This is true fro thermally treated wood decking as well, though to a lesser extent. Non wood decking may require less maintenance but still sometimes needs to be cleaned and sealed.
Capped composites or synthetics?
Capped Composite Decking: Capped composites start with the inexpensive core of wood/fiber composite and add a thin layer of harder plastic (generally PVC). This gives better performance characteristics than composites including better resistance to scratches, fading and staining. The drawbacks have to do with the long-term adhesion of the laminated cap and other problems related to the composite core. Capped composites are sometimes warranted against fade for the life of the product.Armadillo® Composite Decking’s durable and eco-friendly deck boards offer the elegance and warmth of natural hardwoods in a beautiful range of colors and finishes.
Synthetic Decking: Synthetic decking is the gold standard in ultra low-maintenance decking. The best technology is called cellular PVC. It has a very tough surface that is difficult to scratch. The colors are very stable so fading is not a problem. They are impervious to moisture damage and therefore easy to clean. Most spills can be cleaned up with soap and water. Each company has a different warranty, but across the board, the protection is fairly comprehensive.
The best performance we have seen with non-wood decking has been in the Zuri line. This line of decking has a beautiful finish and incredible durability. This product has consistently delivered superior customer satisfaction over the large number of decks we have built.
Thermally Modified Wood
Thermally modified wood is another option that bridges that gap between traditional wood decks and modern durability. The line we have had the best results with is Americana Decking. Americana Decking products are real hardwood that have been specially treated with precise heating. This thermal process makes the wood more stable, more consistently colored, and better prepared to defend against insects and weather. The wood resists water absorption, so wear and decay are warded off for decades to come.
Safety - Unlike many traditional wood decks, non-wood decks are splinter-free and slip-resistant, making your home a little safer for bare feet, small children and pets. PVC actually has better traction when wet than dry. Deckmaster Fine Decks uses hidden bracket systems when installing which eliminates nails and screws on the deck surface, leaving a smoother and safer deck.
Durability - In our experience, the modern decking materials mentioned above have greater durability than natural wood decks. These choices tend to be more environmentally conscious and sustainable as well.
Color and Accessory Selection - Low-maintenance decking manufacturers offer a variety of color choices – many that even emulate the look of traditional lumber or exotic hardwood. In addition, you can find deck accessories ranging from railing, gates, and post caps to deck lighting, all designed to complement and enhance the beauty and safety of the deck.
Long-Term Cost – Many people are surprised to hear that wood can be more expensive than modern materials in the long run. Though the initial cost of wood may be less, add in the cost of on-going maintenance and a modern deck can recoup its additional cost in as little as five years. More important, even well- maintained natural wood deck boards may need replacement in less than 20 years.
Low-maintenance decking or wood decking – A personal choice.
Deckmaster Fine Decks will help you choose which type of decking meets your needs, both in appearance and budget. We bring over 35 years of design and building experience to every deck we build.